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eCommerce 101: Increase Sales and Profits with A/B Testing

May 10, 2012

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AB testing

This is a guest post by Ruben on A/B Testing. You can read the guidelines for guest posting at our guest posting guidelines page.

Commerce sites and online retailers set up websites for one main reason: to increase sales. The first challenge in managing these sites is getting sufficient traffic and sustaining it. Once this is out of the way, the next step should be to find ways and means to increase the rate of conversion of the website’s existing traffic by testing.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is a method that involves modifying one element in a website and showing both variations to site visitors and prospective buyers. The version that gets the most favorable or positive response is deemed as the better one and the changes are then implemented on the actual website.

A/B testing is commonly used to test different versions of banner ads, website layouts, landing pages, and email newsletters. They are relatively easy to conduct because of their simplicity, which has made the technique one of the most popular in the world of Internet marketing.

The Benefits of A/B Testing

Webmasters and designers are able to learn a lot by conducting A/B tests. Conducting surveys can shed some light on what your site visitors want, but they’re often hard to conduct given how so many users don’t like taking surveys. In a way, these A/B tests are like surveys because you’re still measuring responses from your users in an indirect manner.

An optimized website can help you convert on your current traffic because users are more willing to make a purchase or stay on your site longer—that is, if you cater to their preferences and give them what they want. You will also be able to gain a better understanding of your site visitors and use this knowledge for running your future campaigns.

AB testing example

Source: http://www.sitefinity.com

Step-by-Step Guide to Conduct an A/B Test

A/B testing isn’t rocket science. You don’t need to take courses on IT or programming because there is a number of software that you can use to do the tests. You can also hire firms do the testing for you, if you prefer.

Decide what to test

Assess your current site from top to bottom and make a list of elements that could use some improvement. For example, you could consider doing an A/B test for your site layout, image placement, banners, length of content featured on each page, menu bar, and so on.

Design your test.

Once your list is ready, choose one element to test and then create two variations of it. The difference between the two can be subtle or they can be more pronounced; it’s entirely up to you to decide what options you’re going to be laying out for your test.

Run your A/B test.

When the variations are ready, it’s time to run the test. You can use testing software and programs to do it, like Google’s Website Optimizer. This tool is being provided by Google for free, although what you can do with it is a bit limited. If you’re looking to do more with your tests, then you can consider getting premium software instead.

Interpret the results.

A/B tests typically run for a few weeks, depending on your site traffic. When it’s done, gather the data, interpret the results, and implement the version that got the best results from the test. Depending on the criteria you’re working with, this could be the variant that gave you more clicks or sales.

Do it all over again.

When your current test is done, move on to the next thing on your list and go through all of the steps again. Keep running A/B tests so you can continue optimizing your website and increasing your conversions.

About the Author:

Ruben Corbo is a freelancer writer which specializes in different topics including technology, online marketing with AB and Split Testing and Product Recommendation Engines, music, art, and motivation. When Ruben is not writing he is producing and composing music for short films and other forms of visual arts.

Photograph Courtesy:http://www.getbusymedia

About the author 

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My name is Dilip. I am a fan of the internet and love the many opportunities that the world wide web provides. If used constructively , the internet can give you an opportunity to lead a life free of the 9-5 treadmill and will be able to give more time to your family members. Read about internet entrepreneurship at my blog.

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